What Are The Stages Of Herniated Disc?

Overview

If you are one of the millions who suffer from a herniated disc, then you know just how debilitating it can be. A herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc, is a medical condition that affects the spine. In herniated disc, the soft inner material of the spinal cord pushes through a tear in the outer disc wall.

This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the back, arms, or legs. While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for herniated discs, knowing the stages of this condition can help you better understand your symptoms and work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Keep reading to understand the stages of a herniated disc.

Spinal Disc Herniation

The spinal disc is made up of a soft inner core (nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosus). The annulus fibrosus acts like a shock absorber for the spine, cushioning the vertebrae and absorbing impact. When this layer tears, the nucleus pulposus can push through the tear and put pressure on nearby nerves. This is known as a herniated disc.

There are four main stages of a herniated disc

1. Bulging Disc:

In this stage, the outer layer of the disc begins to weaken and bulge outward. However, there is no tear in the annulus fibrosus at this point .

2. Protruding Disc:

In this stage, the outer layer of the disc tears, allowing the inner nucleus pulposus to protrude outward.

Read More: What is Disc Protrusion?→

3. Extrusion:

In this stage, a large portion of the nucleus pulposus pushes through the annulus fibrosus and extends beyond the outer layer of the disc.

4. Sequestration:

In this stage, a fragment of the nucleus pulposus breaks off and becomes completely separated from the main mass. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and cause severe pain.

While herniated discs can occur at any age, they are most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Herniated discs are more likely to occur in people who have degenerative disc disease, a condition that causes the discs to break down with age.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the location of the herniation and the severity of the condition. In some cases, people with a herniated disc may not experience any symptoms at all

However, if the herniated disc is pressing on a nerve, it can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. The most common symptom of a herniated disc is sciatica, which is characterized by pain that radiates from the low back and down the leg. Other symptoms include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Arm pain
  • Leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected area
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor so they can diagnose the cause and develop a treatment plan.

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Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for herniated discs. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and other symptoms and improve function. In some cases, this can be done with nonsurgical treatments such as rest, ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Physical therapy may also be helpful in managing symptoms and improving function.

If nonsurgical treatments don’t relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the location and severity of your herniated disc. Surgery is usually only recommended if you have severe pain or nerve damage that doesn’t improve with nonsurgical treatments.

Herniated discs can be very painful and debilitating. However, most people find relief with nonsurgical treatments such as rest, ice, heat, and pain relievers. If these treatments don’t help, surgery may be an option. Work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Read MoreHow Long for Herniated Disc to Heal Without Surgery →

About Author

Dr. Eshan Nerkar

Neurologist And Neurosuegeon

Dr. Eshan Nerkar, Consultant Brain & Spine Surgeon in Nashik specializes in Spine Surgery. He practices at AXON Brain & Spine Clinic. He is one of the best neurosurgeons in Nashik with more than 10 years of experience. He has performed more than 1000 surgeries related to brain and spinal surgery procedures.

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